As someone who creates for a living, an inherently part of my job is to social network. Without tools like facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, etc. I would have much greater difficulty in promoting and showcasing new art pieces for public consumption. Truth be told until I started maximizing my internet presence there was a distinct ignorance of the work being done, not because it wasn’t of good quality but due to what I call ‘Solo Networking’.
Solo Networking is when someone sticks to an exclusive platform for their consumption of information. Be it Facebook or Twitter or Google+ (no jokes about G+ please…) there is a rather large number of users who rarely if ever delineate from their chosen social networking. This can be problematic for creators like myself who count on pageviews, retweets, reblogs, likes, favourites and any other number of actionable options users activate to publicly appreciate online content. How is this problematic, you might ask? Read on…
Every day I spend about 4-6 hours social networking. Out of those hours, perhaps one is devoted to personal activities. That means 75% minimum of my social networking is business-related, with some daily interactions rounding out at almost 90%. This is a combination of sending/replying to messages, reblogging or reposting pertinent content directly or indirectly related to my business and posting images. Had I only to do this with Facebook that in itself would be enough for most people, but due to the aforementioned ‘Solo Networking’ this needs to be done with as many websites as possible to maximize total public interaction. In addition to Facebook I post to Twitter, Instagram, DeviantArt, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Society6 and WordPress (brand new acquisition!). This is not even all of the sites that I should be active on, with my notable exceptions including MySpace (yes it’s still around), Flickr and Reddit.
I mention this not for sympathy as it is part of the job. I am not complaining about the level of social networking I have chosen to undertake. I do mention it for anyone who uses the internet to showcase their work. Make no mistake artists, you need to have a massive online presence. Relying on one or two websites as a drop zone for your creations will cause you to miss out on entire pockets of the internet that may not update their statuses or tweet. To wit: one of my recent works, Fancy Xenomorph was initially posted on Facebook and received what was to me a larger amount of attention than normal at 16 ‘likes’. Facebook ‘likes’ for art I post myself usually peaks at 8 ‘likes’. I then posted this piece to Tumblr. Tumblr posts are hit/miss depending on the popularity of the tags added but I’ve had moderate successes there with a few pieces garnering over 30 likes/reblogs. Given the filtering system on Tumblr this means that as the art makes its way through Tumblr, I could potentially be looking at hundreds of viewers for a particular piece depending on who reblogs from who. However, ‘Fancy Xenomorph’ has at most recent count over 219 likes/reblogs, meaning as it is shared thousands could be viewing the art. This is phenomenal and speaks to the necessity of having a broad online portfolio as, had I not posted that image on Tumblr at all, I am greatly reducing the visual traffic needed to make a modest living doing what I love.
There is also the case of Solo Networking as a modifier for art appreciation. Taking the example of ‘Fancy Xenomorph’ again, Facebook and Tumblr have proven this piece as popular, but over on Society6 there has been little fanfare. The audience for each social networking site can be quite different and art is subjective. One never knows where the work will receive the most attention. It is more critical now than ever for creators determined to increase their visibility to have their work in as many places as possible. You may be on the cusp of the social zeitgeist, but by pigeon-holing your work on just a few websites you could be missing out on turning your passion project into the next big t-shirt design.
Of course, the details presented above are contingent on your desire to turn your art into a career. It can be a daunting task posting to so many sites without knowledge that the time and effort will result in financial gains. There is no metric for success in the world of online visibility. However by maintaining focus and maximizing your impact across as many platforms as possible (and being extremely patient) you are giving yourself a much better chance at success than those creators just posting to DeviantArt.
(former exclusive dA poster)